Pre-race photo

Discover the Scenic Willamette Valley Half Marathon

Willamette Valley Half Marathon in Willamette Valley wine county!

The Enchanting Willamette Valley

This race is held in the state’s capitol, Salem, OR. The course is run along the scenic Willamette River. The run starts in the beautiful Riverfront Park, crosses the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge, and then settles into miles of pristine paved paths that meander through the Minto-Brown Island Park. There are many local wineries in the area to complement this delightful run. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended vacation, the location is easily accessible.

Willamette River from bridge

Getting to the Venue

Blending the amenities of a bustling town with scenic views, this race is a gem. You can fly into Portland or Eugene, OR. Portland has the largest airport, but they are both about the same distance away. There are numerous hotel options close to the race start/end point.

start finish line

Pre-Race Activities

With a 9 a.m. start time, there is time to mingle with other racers, use the flush restrooms, and get in a pre-race snack. I also really appreciated packet pick-up was allowed on the morning of the run; it was quick and easy. There was a van with free coffee -who doesn’t love that?

pre-race coffee

A Toast to Race Organization and Support

Kudos to Breakaway Promotions! Their aid stations are among the best, brimming with water and a variety of snacks. They’re notably the best of any race I’ve participated in. The race starts promptly at the scheduled time. Numerous support people throughout the course provide directions and encouragement along the way to runners of all paces.  

Celebrating the Slow Runners' Tribe

With a 7-hour time limit, this is a slow runners paradise! On the course, I found lots of camaraderie from both runners and event staff. I really loved the opportunity to take in the scenery as I progressed though the course.

The Highlights of the Race

  • The weather was ideal, with paths offering both shaded and sunny areas.
  • Participants enjoyed spectacular views throughout the run.
  • Very accommodating to those at the back of the pack and walker friendly.
  • Friendly race staff.
  • Fabulous post-race festivities
  • Mostly flat with a few rolling hills (and not the sometimes exaggerated “race director descriptions” of rolling hills here either! haha).
  • While I should list some cons here, I truly am struggling to find any.

Wine, Dine, and Shine: The Post-Race Festivities

Breakaway promotions does an excellent after party. They ensure food is available even for those of us that finish at the back of the pack. Dietary needs? Options are available upon registering for those with special dietary needs. Finishers are treated to a souvenir wine glass, wine tasting tickets, and a beautiful medal. For those that prefer beer or hard cider, those options are also available. All of this paired with live music and new race friends, I’ve never stayed so long after a race ever. Tickets for family and traveling support members can be purchased to join in the celebration.

Tips for Slow Runners Considering the Race

It’s the experience, not just the finish time. This was one of my favorite runs yet and I highly recommend this to all of my back-of-the-pack running friends. In wine country, every slow step is a sip of nature’s beauty. Cheers to the journey!

course path with trees

Ideas to Enhance Your Trip Beyond the Run

If you fly into Portland, don’t miss the magnificent beauty of the Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls.

Silver Falls State Park, with its ten waterfalls, promises a memorable hike.

Embrace the wine theme and go on a wine tour and visit one of the 18 local wineries.

Visit the state capitol building and take a tour to the observation deck.


I would absolutely recommend this run to anyone and will likely be running it again soon. From the scenic routes to the post-race festivities and the chance to make new running friends, it’s an event to remember. Paired with numerous options to round out a lovely trip it makes this race a must-do! Hope to see you out on a course soon.